Prepare Your Business For The Worst

NovecentinoFlickr A recent study found that one in five U.S. businesses doesn’t have a continuity plan in place. If you’re asking What’s a continuity plan?, you’re the one. It’s just not a priority according to 30% of study respondents. Even those companies with a continuity plan in place fail to update them accordingly for changes such as new or expanded marketing efforts, different office space, new or expanded online capabilities, or even acquisitions of entire business units.

AT&T’s Business Continuity Study has surveyed IT executives from U.S. companies with over $25 million in annual revenue for seven years now. Your business may be smaller, but you face some of the issues. 

Are you ready to deal with:

• Natural disasters
• Computer system hacking
• Accidents
• Sabotage
• Data outgrowing storage capabilities
• Sarbanes-Oxley issues

If you’re not prepared to maintain your operations during an emergency, what will happen to your business? Do you have a plan to reach key executives during a natural disaster?

Business Continuity Plans 101

Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) generally cover the areas of disaster prevention, disaster recovery and business resumption. You prevent an earthquake, but you can damn well make sure your data and/or important documents are securely stored off site. Disaster recovery is the process of getting basic business operations up and running. Stop the bleeding. Business resumption means is the act of getting the business back to where it was before the disaster.

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Keep in mind the following areas of consideration:

• Premises
• Human resources management
• Production processes
• Quality control mechanisms
• Maintenance procedures and support services
• IT services & computer systems
• E-commerce processes
• E-mail communication
• Customer service handling
• Sales and sales administration
• Accounting systems & financial records
• Research and development activities
• Marketing and public relations
• Transport & logistics

Just because your business is small doesn’t give you a free pass. At the very least, spend an hour or two working through worst case scenarios.

My BCP looks like this:

Worst Case: No Internet access
Plan: Schlep kids to library and/or bagel and coffee place, then bribe them with candy and Nintendo play time while I work.

Worst Case: Spill much needed coffee on laptop keyboard
Plan: Retrieve backup files and get back to work on the desktop. (Of course this is AFTER pouring a refill of coffee.)

Worst Case: Really bad virus
Brush up on Indian food terminology to chat up help desk guys during the many hours we will spend on. Also – vow to be more careful with keywords when researching for articles (especially spanking, even if it is for a parenting website.)